Rookie Corner – 153 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 153

A Puzzle by Arepo

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Today we have a fifth puzzle from Arepo. Over the next few weeks we will have puzzles from JollySwagman, Metman, Clueso and Mucky.  As usual, the setter will be delighted to receive feedback from you, the solvers. I do ask that you remember that for most setters this is a new experience, so please only offer constructive criticism.

A review by Prolixic follows.

Arepo takes us from the classical world to the internet and rap groups via BO and bodily functions and a smattering of science.  This was very well clued with a lot of variety in the wordplay.  With the possible exception of 7d, there were no real issues with the wordplay.


8 Upset following passion, a dangerous situation (9)
CROSSFIRE – A five letter word meaning upset, the abbreviation for following and a three letter word meaning passion.

9 Chemical to put in with reversed polarity (5)
ESTER – A word meaning to put in with the N changed to an S (with reversed polarity).

11 Bother to pursue a victory or success (5)
AVAIL – After (to pursue) the A from the clue and the abbreviation for victory, add a word meaning to bother or trouble.

12 Defender of NASA mission reported key point (9)
APOLOGIST – A homophone of the name of a NASA mission followed by a four letter word for a key point.

13 Enormous round sign displaying motorway number in Italian (1,4,3)
O SOLE MIO – The abbreviation for enormous or over sized followed by the letter that is round and a sign of the Zodiac that contains (displaying) the name of a motorway.

14 Season with football club out of Milan (6)
WINTER – The abbreviation for with followed by the name of a football club in Milan.

16 Drunk tramp having nicked setter’s sweater (6)
ARMPIT – An anagram (drunk) of TRAMP containing the single letter representing the setter.

19 Small amount of time during Hector’s christening (6)
NAMING – The abbreviation for minute (small amount of time) inside (during) a three letter word meaning to hector.

22 According to folklore, soul-stealer visited sun god (6)
CAMERA – A four letter word meaning visited followed by a two letter name of an Egyptian sun god.

23 Live fast, breaking for holiday (8)
FESTIVAL – An anagram (breaking) of LIVE FAST.

27 Fifty in gold, at least a thousand short for material (9)
ALUMINIUM – The Roman numeral for 50 inside the chemical symbol for gold followed a word meaning at least omitting one of the Roman numerals for 1000.

28 Asian country‘s backstroke master (5)
BURMA – Reverse (back) a word meaning stroke an follow it by the abbreviation for a master of arts.  Not all would be happy with the need to lift and separate backstroke into back stroke without an indication that this is what the solver must do.

29 Sodium chloride, say, almost taken like snuff (5)
NASAL – The chemical symbol for Sodium followed by the type of substance of which a chloride is an example (say) with the final letter removed (almost).

30 Bullish as it veers wildly (9)
ASSERTIVE – An anagram (wildly) of AS IT VEERS.


1 Hunter‘s performance going on a long time (7)
ACTAEON – A three letter word for a performance followed by a four letter word meaning a long time (or if you are so minded, by the A from the clue and a three letter word for a long time!)

2 It could be boiled crap covered in crap (6)
POTATO – A three letter word meaning crap or rubbish in side (covered in) a three letter word for faeces.  In a down clue, covered would normally mean above but covered in can suggest containment.  Not sure that all national editors would be comfortable with the “crudity” of the wordplay here!

3 Lover of 10 has aged with grace ultimately (6)
ISOLDE – A phrase 2,3 meaning has aged followed by the final letter (ultimately) of grace.  You have to be careful where two clues are linked to each other as 3d & 10d as each relies on the other for the definition.  Here the wordplay was clear to get at least one of the answers.

4 Great writers Kingsley and Eliot: men twice married (9)
BIGAMISTS – A three letter word meaning great followed by the surname of a writer called Kingsley and the initials of a writer called Eliot.

5 Moralising writer with a regressive attitude… (5)
AESOP – The A from the clue followed by a reversal (regressive) of a word meaning attitude.

6 …admonished naked, debauched pleasure-seeking (8)
HEDONISM – An anagram (debauched) of the inner letters (naked) of aDMONISHEd.

7 Ton of critics making profound impressions (7)
CRATERS – The Roman numeral for 100 (ton) followed by a word meaning of critics.  Perhaps having to go from ton to 100 to the Roman numeral is overly complex. I am not convinced that the “of” is helpful in the clue as the second part of the wordplay means critics not of critics.

10 Stir-crazy, embraced by bronze lover of 3 (7)
TRISTAN – An anagram (crazy) of STIR inside a word meaning bronze (as from sitting in the sun).

15 Core energy given by minestrone soup (9)
INNERMOST – An anagram (soup) of MINESTRONE after removing one E (energy given).  Perhaps a stronger deletion indicator would be nice here.  

17 Questionable sources of alcohol for us (7)
RUMOURS – A three letter alcoholic drink followed by a four letter word meaning for us.

18 Fragment from page – Wikipedia page? (8)
PARTICLE – The abbreviation for page followed by another name given for a page on a subject in Wikipedia.

20 Slight sees top rap group returning amid clamour (7)
SCRAWNY – The first letter (top) of sees followed by a three letter word meaning clamour (the second part of the term hue and ???) inside which (amid) add a reversal (returning) of NWA (rap group).

21 Less polluted by carbon, more 20 (7)
CLEANER – The chemical symbol for carbon followed by a word meaning more 20d.

24 Garment worn in Old England thanks to Shakespeare (6)
TABARD – A two letter word meaning thanks followed by another word used to describe Shakespeare.

25 Guard protecting royal poet (6)
VIRGIL – A five letter word meaning a guard or watch around (protecting) a single letter abbreviation (given in Collins but not in Chambers) for royal.

26 Idiot on a new sofa (5)
DIVAN – A three letter slang word for an idiot follows by the A from the clue and the abbreviation for new.

51 comments on “Rookie Corner – 153

  1. We were most of the way through this and thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it and then unexpected visitors arrived. Now we have to go out with still just a handful to finish later tonight. Excellent fun so something to look forward to.

    1. We are home again now and have managed to fill in the last few answers. Like Gazza we needed Google to find the 20d group. Last one in for us was 7d. Too many good ones to pick a favourite and our earlier opinion for enjoyment still holds.
      Thanks Arepo and well done.

  2. I enjoyed this a lot – thanks Arepo. Top clues for me were 13a, 4d and 24d with the biggest laugh coming from 16a. I had to look up the rap group in 20d.

  3. Thank you to Arepo for another enjoyable puzzle. I have two queries – one relating to a definition and the other where I don’t quite see how I get the last bit of a solution, but I’ll wait to see what Prolixic thinks in the morning. My favourite, for the d’oh moment when I realised what the definition was/meant, is 22a

  4. Nice puzzle, with just about the right level of challenge. I got all of the top half first, and found the bottom half slightly harder, with the SW falling last.
    Clues I ticked are: 13a, 16a, 22a, 1d, 2d, 4d, 7d, 17d, though I think I ticked more at the start and might have just stopped bothering.
    I got 20d from the definition, helped by the reference in the other clue, but checked it before continuing because of lack of rap knowledge – which I seem to share with others here. I would guess there’s not that much crossover between rap and crossword fans.
    15d: I’m not sure what energy is doing in there.
    11a: I’m a bit dubious about the definition. I see the solution can be a noun, but even then it’s a bit loose, perhaps.
    1d: I ticked this clue, and got it early on, but I think it’s probably a bit obscure for a solution with only 3/7 crossers.
    8a: ‘following’ – this is a general gripe, and not particularly aimed at you. I would expect following to work the other way round. I have seen it used as it is here in published puzzles, but if it can work either way, I don’t see it has much use as an indicator.
    Minor quibbles all, and very enjoyable. Thanks

    1. In 8a I think that ‘following’ is an abbreviation rather than a positional indicator.

      1. Oh, I see, thanks. I’ve fallen into my usual trap of assuming it was someone else’s mistake rather than my own.

    2. Also, my energy comment was mere laziness on my part, and inability to count to 10. Got it now.

    3. Thanks Catarella, glad you enjoyed it! I think you might be right about 11a – the sense I was going for was “he tried to set a good clue but to no ______” – but as you say this is somewhat loose. “Gain” or “profit” might have been more accurate.

  5. I loved it, and ticked 16A ( my runaway favorite), 27A (long time since I’ve had to spell it that way), 29A , and 4D particularly. I had the same question as Caratella for 8A. I’ve read you’re explanation, Gazza, but I’m afraid I don’t understand what you mean by ‘abbreviation.’

    Lots of fun, Arepo. Thanks!

    1. 8a. The “abbreviation” parsing is correct and better, but this is one of those clues you could easily parse wrongly because ire and fire both = passion. “Following” is used as a two-way positional indicator, usually with A following B, but here (paradoxically) with B following A as in: Upset (CROSS) [has] following passion (FIRE) = a dangerous situation.

      1. Yes – the B following A approach is also valid. You get that in harder puzzles where it’s intended that you sort of take a breath and read it as:

        A – following [we have] B

        Easy to assume it’s accidentally inside out – maybe sometimes it is.

        Interesting clue. I can’t remember how I parsed it myself at the time.

  6. A real mixed bag for me. Some that I thought were great – 22a plus 5,24&25d – and others that I disliked, including 2&20d.
    A few question marks that await Prolixic’s review but overall an enjoyable solve.
    Thanks to Arepo – look forward to the next one.

  7. By the way, not that it affected anything, but the PDF version has NTSPP 153 printed on it.

  8. This was a lot of fun.

    8a – I too fell into the trap of thinking that “following” should have been “followed by”, having wrongly assumed the last four letters were “passion”. Thanks for the “f” explanation, Gazza!
    12a, 13a, 16a – all brilliant.
    22a – I have never heard of the answer being a soul-stealer, but Google put me wise.
    28a – Isn’t this an ex-country now?
    2d – I didn’t much like this one.
    4d – Excellent.
    5d – Very good.
    15d – Is “given” sufficient to indicate removal. Why not “given up”?
    20d – Once again I needed Google to confirm the (obscure for me) rap group.

    Many thanks, Arepo. This was great fun, with 13a & 16a my joint favourites.

    1. I owe knowledge of the soul-stealer, as so much else, to Crocodile Dundee. ‘You can’t take my picture’, ‘Oh, I’m sorry, you believe it’ll take your spirit away’ ‘Nah, you got a lens-cap on’.

    2. Hi RD, thanks for the comment, glad you enjoyed it! True 28a is officially an ex-country, but I gather the naming issue is a bit controversial – like (London)Derry it depends on who you ask – so I’d argue it’s just about acceptable. I’ll cop to the indicator in 15d being weak though – if I had my time again I’d go with ‘yielded’. L’esprit de l’escalier…

  9. Tremendous stuff, Arepo, very well done indeed. With each puzzle there is noticeable improvement from the last, which ideally is how it should be of course. You’ve clearly devoted time to eliminate the odd questionable surface, and it shows.

    I liked the relative brevity of most of the clues, and I always love it when there is the odd classical/mythological reference included, although perhaps you overdid it a little with the number of them in the end. Like others, the SW corner was the last to yield, and I see I’m in good company in needing to look up the rap group.

    Like Caterella, I wasn’t totally convinced about the definition in 11a, and I don’t think I’ve seen “royal” abbreviated to “r” before – I couldn’t find it in Chambers, so hopefully it’s in Collins.

    My printed page is littered with ticks, with 13a, 16a, 19a, 4d and 15d earning double ticks. This was high-quality cluing and, given the rapid progress you’re making, I predict that a promotion can’t be too far away.

    Many thanks and congratulations, Arepo.

    1. Thanks silvanus, glad you enjoyed it! In particular I’m glad the (relative) brevity was noticeable – I did specifically aim, with this one, to get every clue to ten words max.

      The abundance of classical references was unintentional – but I hope I compensated for it with NWA!

  10. Many thanks Arepo

    I did the bottom first, then NE and NW was last. Plenty of ticks: 9a, 12a, 113a, 16a, 19a, 22a, 23a, 28a (even with the split), 4d when i got it (for some inexplicable reason I was trying to put in BEN somewhere), 5d, 6d (very nice). All great stuff, congratulations.

    I thought 29a was quite devious. In 15a I wondered if ‘released’ might be a slightly fairer deletion indicator, and in 17d i wondered whether ‘of us’ would be more usual. I also liked the pair of lovers – turns out you don’t really need ’embraced by’ in 10d as bronze also just follows (shades of 8a, I guess, where the 3 & 4 letter endings both work for passion and you could omit following).

    20d I remembered the rap group from another puzzle somewhere, but i’m still missing something to do with the first letter of the answer.

    Very enjoyable, original and clever, thanks again

    1. Look up the bits of your answer to 20d without the rap group and you’ll find a word you probably have never heard of meaning clamour

      1. CS, I did look up the word you are referring to (which I had never heard of) and see what you mean, but I took “sees top” to be the first letter of the answer, with a word for “clamour” which I am sure Dutch will definitely have heard of.

        1. Bother…

          I tried to add that comment 10 minutes ago but got the dreaded white screen and now I see that Gazza has beaten me to it!

          1. He usually does – my trouble is that I’m trying to work and look at the blog at the same time – never a good combination

  11. Mostly fine, but I do have some niggles. I am not keen on 2d or 26d, and I’m not sure about 20d, even though I am familiar with the rappers. Never did get 1d, and I have no clue what 13a is all about. Top clues for me were 16a, 14a & 15d.
    Gripes aside, overall a good puzzle so thanks to Arepo.

  12. Phew that was really hard work. Started after breakfast and kept returning to it, thought I was going to be defeated but I persevered – do I get a star in my book for perseverance? Interested to see review to help me see why I did what I did, I still feel I have a long way to go in my apprenticeship. :phew:

      1. I ‘perservated’ too and have been doing the crossword alternating with gardening all day so I could do with a flower too, please, since you’re dishing them out.

    1. I thought it was tricky in places and, like you, kept going off to do other things and returning and getting another couple of answers.

  13. most enjoyable with 1d the last onein , the answer for which i dredged up from a history lesson from at least 45 years ago. favourite was 2d because it made me smile.
    thank-you arepo & to prolixic in advance of his review.

  14. Looks like you are ready for a promotion Arepo.
    Felt like solving a “proper” crossword and only needed to check the rap group.
    The clues were very fair and brought a lot of smiles (2d, 4d, 26d, 16a).
    Loved the doublé in 3/10d.
    Thanks a lot. Definitely want to see more.

  15. I thought that was tricky – perhaps I have sunstroke – I really enjoyed doing it in bite sized chunks while doing other stuff.
    I did get terribly bogged down in the top left corner – I had four gaps for quite a long time but have got them all now.
    I don’t ‘get’ my 13a answer and I’m not sure that I ‘get’ my 29a answer either – dim, probably.
    I’ve never heard of the 26d idiot or the rap group and I always forget the 7d ‘ton’.
    All really good fun with lots of good clues.
    I liked 16a (oh – that kind of sweater) and 19 and 28a and 10 and 21d. I also liked 2d although I’m not sure that Arepo would get away with it in other places (see what Prolixic says) and my favourite was 4d.
    With thanks and a big well done, again, to Arepo and thanks in advance to Prolixic.

  16. Hi Arepo – great puzzle – easily the best of the medium difficulty puzzles I’ve solved recently – ie the “professional” ones.

    My favourites were 8a, 13a and 4d – plenty of others came close.

    I didn’t note any quibbles except maybe that 28a isn’t that country’s name any more – oh well – maybe “energy” in 15d is fudged in to make the surface work – the real definition being “core” – but it’s clear enough what’s intended.

    In the process I learned the name of a rap group and a new word (to me) for idiot – neither of which I knew before – must get out more often.

    Many thanks for the fun.

    1. Oops – 15d too many E’s in minestrone otherwise – staring at the word I was convinced it had nine letters – must scribble more – so it’s OK.

  17. Many thanks as ever, Prolixic. I’d definitely be one of those editors who felt ‘uncomfortable’ about 2d!

    Nevertheless, I appreciate that this was a good puzzle – well done, Arepo.

  18. Thanks, Prolixic
    2d has obviously divided opinion. I think crap is a lovely word. It has a satisfying punchy sound, is both a verb and noun (though I don’t like it being adjectived) and has a wide range of meanings, including ‘the residue formed in boiling, melting or rendering fat’

  19. Many thanks Prolixic for an excellent and informative review. I also hesitated with 7d, then convinced myself that it could work if read together “ton of critics” = 100 raters = Craters. but as you say, still 2 steps.

  20. Rather late getting to this but I wanted to say how much I enjoyed the challenge and the variety in the clues.
    Many thanks to Arepo and of course to Prolixic for the blog

  21. Thanks to all for the kind words, and thanks to Prolixic as always! It’s invariably a pleasure to see so many people taking the time to try the puzzle and leave their thoughts.

    Good point on the ‘covered’ in 2d. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen ‘covered’ to mean ‘above’ in a down clue but I can see it makes logical sense. I wonder does the same apply to ‘over’?

    I thought in advance that 2d would polarise the group – glad some enjoyed it anyway!

    Ton of critics = 100 raters was indeed my intention in 7d. I agree though, it is more than one step – though I think calling it two steps is overegging it – can we settle on one and a half?!

    Fair cop on the ‘given’ in 15d – it seemed fair enough to me when I wrote it, but I am my own least harsh critic…

    Thanks again to everybody – as I say, it’s always constructive and always a pleasure :)

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